Five tips to keep your kids safe during the holidays
November 24, 2021
By: Heather Adams, D.O. Director of Pediatric Psychiatry Consult Liaison Services
Randall Children's Hospital at Legacy Emanuel Medical Center
With the holidays quickly approaching and families looking forward to being together after more than a year apart, it's important to keep in mind a few tips to ensure your children stay safe and healthy.
Here are a few important tips to protect the physical and mental wellbeing of your children and teens during the holiday season.
- Track and lock up the medication.
As relatives visit for the holidays, it’s essential to be aware of prescription and over-the-counter medication that may be easily accessible to children. Brightly colored pills can be dropped, and young children can mistake pills as candy. Young children can put dangerous medications into their mouths, which can lead to an unwanted hospital stay. Securing medications in a medication lock box can help keep your kids safe and protect their friends who may be at your home from accidental or intentional medication abuse. Ask visiting relatives to bring smaller amounts of medications to your home.
- Keep an eye on alcohol.
During the holiday season, accidents caused by alcohol consumption increase astronomically, and teen abuse of alcohol increases as well. If your family has alcohol on hand during the holidays, be aware of potential misuse by adolescents and friends of children in the home.
- Look for signs of marijuana use.
Be aware of teens who may be using marijuana. Just because marijuana is legal in Oregon for adults doesn’t make it safe or legal for teens who underestimate the risks. The potency of marijuana available today has increased significantly. The concentrations of THC in today’s marijuana products particularly in vapes and edibles, is unhealthy for young developing brains. It’s important to talk to your teens about marijuana use and keep harmful substances out of reach for children and adolescents in the home. Be on the lookout for mentions of dabbing as this means your child is coming into contact with extremely high levels of THC, which can result in confused and disorganized thinking or possible hallucinations.
- Stay in tune with your child’s mental health.
Holidays can be a hard time for children with mental health issues. If a child is known to have depression, the holidays can be triggering. Frequently check-in with children and adolescents who have signs of stress or depression. If you notice concerning behaviors; increased isolation from family, poor self-care (not taking showers, not eating), check in with them about their feelings and emotions.
- Bring on the family fun!
Enjoy time together as a family over the holidays. Look for safe and engaging activities, such as outdoor fun in the snow, holiday parties with vaccinated friends and family, movie night, or board games. Bringing back family fun night even in a virtual setting can also help children feel included in the joys of the season.
Additional resources in Oregon & Washington
Oregon crisis contacts:
- Oregon Youth Line 1-877-968-8491 text: teen2teen to 839863
- Crisis Resolution Center for the State of Oregon 1-541-474-5360
- Oregon Suicide LifeLine 1-800-273-8255
- County Map with Crisis Numbers
- National Alliance on Mental Illness, toll-free Helpline: 800-343-6264 or NAMI Oregon
- Safe Oregon
- Lines for life
- Youth Era
Washington crisis contacts:
- Washington State Health Authority Mental Health Crisis Line
- Teen Talk – Clark County (Nonjudgmental support for teens, by teens)